August 2003 Archives
August 31, 2003
I'd normally treat email as private correspondence, but in this case I'll make an exception. Fiona is apparently reading this book, about a line of horses from which hers is descended (bear with me, it's worth it). Ada Lovelace is involved, which is bizarre enough, but Fiona's mail consists of the following quote:
In the winter of 1873 they travelled into the Algerian desert where Lady Anne fell seriously ill. A potentially akward situation was saved only by the arrival of Ralph Wentworth who was following behind and came to the rescue swathed, as his custom was, in a multitude of coats and cloaks, but bare headed and without any other luggage than his violin, a filter and a huge Bologna sausage purchased in Italy.
Genius. Bonus marks for spotting the titular reference of this post, incidentally.
Having annoyingly missed the first showing on BBC4, I was determined to catch the adaptation of Michael Frayn's play Copenhagen tonight. Well worth the time - it's a crying shame it's not already as famous as the seminal Life Story dramatisation of the discovery of the structure of DNA, since it's clearly in the same league.
Without doing a whole heap of research, I'm not sure sure what to make of the central premise. The play is based around a meeting between Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg - two of the prime movers behind quantum theory, and colleagues before war divided them - in Copenhagen, in 1941. Heisenberg was running the German nuclear programme, and he visited his old mentor... why?
Frayn reaches not so much a conclusion as an observation. Had the two of them fallen into their old ways, he posits, they'd have realised that the then-common assumption about the quantity of uranium-235 needed to make a critical mass was false. Had Heisenberg worked out that only about fifty kilogrammes of fissile material was needed, we may now discuss 'London' and 'Paris' rather than 'Hiroshima' and 'Nagasaki.' There are, of course, a whole bundle of suppositions in there, but nevertheless it's a chillingly fascinating thought experiment.
Meanwhile, I'm reminded how much I miss doodling with quantum mechanics. All those Schr�dinger equation squiggles, Hermitian operators, psi-squared probability functions. It's glorious, insane, beautiful, incomprehensible, tantalising stuff, as a model of the world - still the best model we have - flits across the page, always slightly out of reach.
It's a good thing my copy of Gasiorowicz is 200 miles away, else I'd be flicking through it and reminding myself just how much I've forgotten in the last decade.
August 29, 2003
I just had an email from my Dad, in reply to a mail I sent him last night. This wouldn't be remarkable, except that he signs off with 'Breakfast calls.'
Even my Dad is checking his email before breakfast now. I'm surrounded by geeks!
August 27, 2003
It's a fair cop. This I think does satisfy me that irony is alive and well and favoured by... the Republican party? Apparently so. As the Inquirer notes with traditional ill grammar, the party is fundraising through:
underpaid people in Harayana helping robots to call possibly out of work Americans because of a widespread policy of corporate outsourcing
Meanwhile, back in the real world, I've missed the other flat I saw at the weekend. It was on the market a whole five days, gosh. Two more viewings tonight...
August 26, 2003
[sigh] So, since reading about Greg Dyke's plan to put the BBC archive online, I've been wondering what they plan to do about rights. In the rush to praise the Beeb this has rather been overlooked. Let me explain.
When you make a TV programme, you (usually) pay people for the work they contribute. In the case of creative talent - presenters, actors, voice-over performers, musicians, and in times gone by directors - the rights bought are extremely specific. Usually, the broadcaster only has the right to show a programme two or three times. Additional broadcasts or export sales trigger extra payments, called 'residuals.' This is the way the industry works, and how people make their living. It's perfectly possible to have a system where people are 'bought out' of all their rights by the broadcaster at the start: indeed, I work on such terms - I get paid once and the production company owns the product of my work. But still, my programmes are encumbered by presenters', music and occasionally archive video/stills reproduction rights. You could change this for future series by spending more upfront, but you can't do that retrospectively.
For much of the BBC's archive, they simple don't have the artists' permission to reproduce the show - until relatively recently, digital non-broadcast formats (ie. internet delivery) simply won't be mentioned in the contract. Even if rights can be secured, the time required to do so for even a small fraction of the BBC's archive would be immense.
So... 'putting the BBC's archive online for the public' - which is what Dyke has been reported and praised as saying - implies renogotiation of rights deals en masse, right? Er... well, no, because that's not what he promised, as even cursory journalism reveals.
Here's the full text of Greg Dyke's speech. In particular, here's the section where he describes what he actually has in mind:
We intend to allow parts of our programmes, where we own the rights, to be available to anyone in the UK to download so long as they don't use them for commercial purposes.
Under a simple licensing system, we will allow users to adapt BBC content for their own use.
Now, this isn't what I've seen people online - including me - discussing. It isn't even close. We'll get clips of Walking with Dinosaurs (BBC in-house production, available without voiceover, and they own the music), but the full run of Blake's 7 or any of the costume dramas? That's not what Dyke's talking about.
It's still a fine endeavour, but it's emphatically not 'putting the BBC's archive online.' Not by a long shot.
[update: here's an example of the sort of thing that's around on the web. And of course, I fell for it myself; not a shock, since the original BBC News Online article makes the same mistake! C'mon folks, let's check facts with the original sources!. If we're going to play at being journos, let's do it properly.]
A lovely flat with a corner bay lounge: 'has potential' rather than 'walk-in condition,' but I'd rather have character and some spare deposit than someone else's idea of a perfect kitchen.
Only, there's a minor snag. Just a teensy one. The surveyor's report: 'The roof's about to fall in.'
Up in the attic there are decaying lumps of hardboard vaguely keeping the water out, with buckets helping out. In the surveyor's estimate it's one winter away from serious damp problems through the side walls, and not much further off fears of serious roof failure.
Now, I was expecting the survey to pick up on pretty much everything - ie. to be fairly dour - but I don't think it's normal for the chap to call and say 'Tell you what - I'll spare you the written report, so long as you don't buy it.'
Dang. I can pick 'em.
August 25, 2003
Forgot to note yesterday - while poddling around the country park, I took a track that looked like a bike lane... that descended into a bridleway... that petered out into a rough track. Mmm... roughstuff and 23mm slick road tyres: that's not snap.
Ben Hammersley is in Kabul. Great images, and the pictures aren't bad either.
August 24, 2003
Just back from my first decent (ie. non-commuting) run on the new bike. Yes, I know I've had it for weeks, but this really was the first chance I've had. Well, second maybe, but anyway... still nothing spectacular, just a bit of an explore up to Pollock Country Park, past the Burrell Collection, then looping back to the Clyde and along some of the cycle tracks there, on a glorious late afternoon. Only about 20 miles. Some observations:
- There are more cycle routes and tracks in Glasgow than I'd assumed.
- There's also more glass than seems remotely reasonable. Oh, and a greater variation in track surfacing than I could have guessed. Who's bright idea was it to use cobbles on a dedicated bike path, then?
- The bike still seriously outclasses me. It wants to spin along at 22mph - I'm staggering at 18. It's glorious, and I now know how it handles in fast descents up to 32mph. The steering stiffens gradually, rendering it increasingly stable at speed. It's textbook stuff, and absolutely delightful in practice. I can't wait to lug the thing up to Glencoe.
- Over 100 miles on the clock now, and it needs that free first service. Everything's a little loose/bedded in: it needs a sympathetic hand with a set of allen keys and some grease.
- The ride isn't as harsh as I'd feared, but I really do need to fit the bar ends. The direct steering and flat bars are perfect for commuting, but on longer runs I really do need the forward extensions to avoid doing nasty things to my wrists. Ow.
- In the afternoon sun, the riverside is surprisingly pretty. Glasgow isn't a beautiful town in any standard sense, but it's by no means ugly. It's the sort of place you can respect.
Now - time for a shower. Eu.
No, I'm not there, but it looks like there's some mighty weird stuff going down. On Friday Tony Ball, BSkyB's Chief Executive, suggested that the BBC should be forced to sell off its six most-popular series each year. Now, on cursory inspection that would appear to be an unworkably daft idea, but on closer examination I reckon it turns out to be utterly stark-staring bonkers. Unless, that is, one's goal is to render the BBC operationally unviable. And as the BBC themselves pointed out, this is Murdoch we're talking about.
Next up: Greg Dyke has apparently revealed plans to put the BBC's back-catalogue online, free for non-commercial use. Which at first glance would appear to be an excellent way of sinking a small fortune on storage, digitising time, and bandwidth, but in practice is exactly the sort of thing the BBC should be doing. Who says Dyke doesn't understand the term 'public service broadcasting'? Of course, they'll probably use some whacko DRM-enabled Windows Media Player codec, but that's a different kettle of (exceedingly smelly) fish. And what does it mean for the DVD sales of BBC Worldwide? Should I not have bought Blackadder?
Dyke also had some reassuring things to say about the need for a strong ITV. Well, he muttered the phrase, anyway. ITV itself seems so caught up in the ongoing merger mania that one doesn't often hear such direct drum-beating from them - so it's kind of Dyke to step in and fill the deafening silence. He specifically raises the subject of broadcasting fees, which as advertising revenue falls are a touchy subject.
The future of ITV is in some ways more interesting than that of the BBC, since the two are theoretically linked. That is, they're supposed to benchmark each other to similarly high standards; which is increasingly difficult as ITV's programming budget shrinks. But hey, now we're back to the subject of the BBC's competitive/commercial behaviour, which is where we started. And I'm hardly an impartial observer.
August 23, 2003
Holy crap! This is why free, widely distributed, development tools - and responsive developers - are such a big deal. Jonathan Rentzsch shows how to change NetNewsWire's standard three-pane layout into a 'widescreen' alternative that, frankly, makes more sense. The software's author, meanwhile, seems to pretty much agree.
Unbelievably cool. And Brent, speaking as a happy user: yes, I'd love to see this in a future build. It slightly beats my contribution of spotting the mis-aligned buttons. But hey, even that's fixed in 1.0.4. :-)
Oh, that's just great. Today (apart from seeing a flat I will try to buy on Monday - eep!), I picked up a copy of 24 season 2 on DVD, since I missed pretty much all of it, and it is gloriously silly.
I'm halfway through the first disc, and apart from Kim Bauer, the thing that's pissing me off most is the menu system. Just imagine: you have a series that plays out in something like real time, so clocks and clock dials are pretty significant metaphors. What, then, in the name of tarnation could possess a graphic designer to come up with a main menu system that goes anti-clockwise? Have they completely lost their senses? Did nobody stick their hand up and say 'Umm... isn't that confusingly backwards? Oh, and the bit where Kim gets caught in a bear trap, can we just cut that 'cos, you know, it's crap?'
I've been forgetting to look for this for ages: Victoria Wood/Julie Walters sketch, 'Giving Notes.' One of my all-time favourites.
August 22, 2003
August 21, 2003
She's back in for another operation. Check for updates, leave messages of support, etc here.
Alan, give her a hug from me, yeah? Jules - you do the same for Alan.
Apparently the fourth Test at Headingley this weekend will have a fancy dress competition, since so many supporters are turning up as the Hulk, nuns, or Dickie Bird. When asked on Today if attending in such bizarre attire was bringing the game into disrepute, Tim De Lisle, the editor of Wisden, replied to the effect that in London, chaps wear blazer and tie. It doesn't get more bizarre, surely? RealAudio version here.
Nuns at Henley next year, Daniel?
August 20, 2003
I finally got around to installing X-Plane 7 on my Mac (since my PC is 200 miles away), and have just spent a happy hour tooling around in - of all things - a Fairey Rotodyne. Top fun, but in honour of the real thing I left the volume up rather high. Remind me to apologise to the neighbours in the morning.
Oh, and fly-by-mouse is utterly terrible, believe me. Even when you don't have to worry about two different throttles and a collective control...
At last I have moved into the year 2001! Just as everyone is waking up to find G5s on their doorsteps, I've finally got a G4.
Cool. Congrats. What's it called?
August 19, 2003
See, I told you. Scottish food isn't as bad as you think. But I still maintain that the best chippy is The Magpie in Whitby.
August 18, 2003
'Labour planned to assassinate Idi Amin' shouts the Sunday Herald. Only, that's not what David Owen said at all. Interviewed on Radio 4 over the weekend, he said he's raised the idea, but it hadn't been viewed remotely positively. Indeed, the Sunday Herald's own story quotes his next sentence:
'I’m not ashamed of considering it, because his regime goes down in the scale of Pol Pot as one of the worst of all regimes. It was a disgrace on us all that he was allowed to stay in office for as long as he did.'
...and that's it. There is no more information that would lead one to the headline. Not in the printed story, anyway. So: do the journalists know something they haven't bothered telling us, or was their editor too lazy to read his own front-page copy and write an appropriate headline? Or were they just trying to shock people into buying more papers?
I meant to post about this at the time: this astonishingly callous Washington Post Editorial was published last Thursday; it lambasts wussy Europeans for whining about it being 'a bit warmer than usual.'
As my friend Vinay puts it, this is not the first time we've heard somebody say 'Hi, 3000 of your people are dead: we're largely responsible. woot!'. At least some of the Post's readers would appear to take similar offence.
But what really got me was this passage:
...maybe they will now at least stop turning up their noses at those American summer inventions they've long loved to mock: [...], the air conditioner that produces sub-arctic temperatures...
Er... those would be the same air conditioners that, later in the same day the article was published, contributed significantly to the failure of an overloaded power grid? Result: roughly as many people as live in the UK were without power for up to 30 hours. Hmm, OK.
And no, actually I still don't think this is an example of irony. Schadenfreude, perhaps?
...so this provided a welcome distraction. The last-line kicker is particularly fine.
I bought a new hard drive the other day, for Mike's sickly iMac. A sticker on its case reads 'Warranty invalid in event of damage sustained from shocks in excess of 350g.' So, I was trying to work out how one could possibly manage that... then Vinay sent me this link. And now I know.
August 17, 2003
August 16, 2003
Oh: not sure if it's just me, but the Safari/Real Player/Atom Films combo isn't too great. You might prefer to paste this link into RealOne directly: <http://real.atomfilms.speedera.net/ramgen/adtag/general/real.atomfilms/smil_absolute/pink5_300.smi>.
August 15, 2003
Amongst the far-too-many things on my 'ToDo' list is 'sort out this blog.' It's high time it had some static pages, links, that sort of thing; I want a list of recent comments in the sidebar; and this layout is one of the off-the-shelf Movable Type designs - not very distinctive. However, the MT learning curve is somewhat steep and TypePad isn't enough of an excuse for that, frankly.
However, three things have helped recently. First is Blogstyles - though if you want to try a few styles on and see if they fit, it could get very pricey. Second, the MT-Plugins Directory. Looks like SimpleComments will handle the sidebar thing (and do other bits too). Third, this excellent explanation of how the DIV structure works in MT. I was planning on compiling something like this myself, since I was thoroughly appalled that it's not a standard part of the documentation. Thankfully, somebody beat me to it, and made a rather better job of it than I would have.
[Posted here for my own reference, as much as anything. Oh - that's another thing on my ToDo list - start a second blog (or maybe Wiki) just for things I want to note to myself. Maybe I should just stuff my Newton online and stop carrying it around...]
'Come to dinner,' said Mike, leading up to the catch, 'and you could bring my Mac up-to-date while you're round.' This is typically a better deal than it sounds, since a meal with Mike and Jo involves at the very least terrific company, and usually (as tonight) rather decent food too. Copious wine, etc, all that jazz. If you're very lucky, Mike digs out his recording of the Treorchy Male Voice Choir singing Queen covers, which is a work of stellar genius.
Unfortunately, on this occasion Mike forgot to mention one teensy detail, which finally came out just as I finished installing 10.2.6: his iMac is, in fact, utterly buggered. It only boots about one time in twenty.
Three hours later, it was still goosed, part-way through the installation of some essential update or other. So... when I arrived, he had a kitchen full of food and a marginally-working Mac. When I left, he had an empty kitchen and a non-booting Mac.
August 14, 2003
One of my favourite photographs. Barking. (in case you're not moved to click, the photo is croquet, played from a sedan chair, by Nigella Lawson. Yes, you read that right).
From the news stories you'd think Microsoft had just launched an iTunes Music Store-beating package in Europe. That's probably what the press release says, but thankfully Jack Schofield did some journalism. The truth isn't quite what the headlines would have one believe.
Which begs the question - why is the media bit of the Guardian reporting the story one way, while Jack's piece appears in the online section of the same paper?
...exactly how many people work in the department, but I counted them all out, and I counted them all back in again. Well, almost all.
They're dropping like flies here: first the accountant went AWOL (three days later it turns out he's OK, but isn't speaking to us - we don't know why), then a director found what one could term 'an interesting way of tendering one's resignation.' Any more and we'll be in Marie Celeste territory.
Something in the water?
August 13, 2003
The Diamond Age may soon be upon us; apparently in a decidedly 'industrial espionage' stylee. Cool.
I've finally finished posting my photos from America; they're up in a gallery here:
If you click through the thumbnails you'll find my comments on each shot. Be warned that there are rather a lot of them. There are probably some viewing preferences things scattered around in the system - feel free to play - and you can even leave comments on particular photos.
Caveats: (1) sorry about the \' nonsense. Server problem; I thought I'd fixed it but it's returned. (2) Re-reading my comments, they seem more melancholy than I'd intended/expected. Weird. I think I must have been going for 'minimalist dry wit' but missed, or something. (3) I think that lens' days are over: the vignetting is simply dreadful. Annoying. (4) Still to come: video sequences, and desktop textures.
Anyway - enjoy. Let me know what you think.
August 12, 2003
While you're waiting for me to finish posting my USA road trip photos, here are a few from the same sort of area, along with some appropriate musings. My own trip totalled 2,806 miles, spread over a fortnight; I didn't go as far North as Salt Lake City, but I did hit bits of Interstate 80. Galleries coming soon. No, really, I mean it. I just have captions to write for Yosemite, and San Francisco to post, then I'm done...
Over the last few days I've been partaking of my landlord's DVD collection, which consists entirely of 2001's Band of Brothers. I saw bits when it went out, but not the whole thing - and it's mightily impressive. Certainly, more convincing as a story and as a group of characters than Saving Private Ryan, and just as unpleasant. Which, in this context, is a good thing. Large parts of it are closer to combat than I ever wish to come.
Several aspects stand out. Episode six follows a medic; focussing on an ordinary individual to illuminate extraordinary circumstances is the oldest dramatic trick in the book for good reason - it works. Episode nine 'Why we Fight' is hauntingly powerful, as the Company stumble across a concentration camp, but such hindsight does concern me. It's why we should have fought, but unless my grasp of the history is defective, it was regrettably not part of why we did fight. Telling ourselves now that we were purely doing the right thing then strikes me as dangerous; the Holocaust is Europe's shame, not just Germany's. We do ourselves no favours to gloss over that unpalatable truth.
The last episode is disconcertingly like that of any other drama serial, filling us in on what happened next to the characters we've grown to care about. I guess we need to know, but it's a disappointingly gentle ending to what's been a brutal, uncompromising, but surprisingly even-handed portrayal.
But in the end the whole thing hangs together astonishingly, and not just because the (true) story is so awesome. It hangs together because you genuinely believe the actors you're watching are an initially green but increasingly battle-hardened unit. They move, act, think, give and take orders in a way I've not seen on screen before. Watch the 'making of' featurette, but more importantly the video diaries from the actors' 'boot camp.' It's astonishing - the speed with which they fall into their parts, particularly Damian Lewis moving from lanky British actor to natural leader Lt. Winters. Genuinely a stand-out performance.
It's an unpleasant series to watch, in many ways. I'm glad I've seen it; it's well worth the investment of time.
August 11, 2003
Hey, Vinay - Philip Greenspun on driving in the Bay (uh... 'Bay Area'), and an interesting observation on what I take to be the Honda Impact (which seems to have disappeared over here - curious).
In unrelated news, I sat in a Smart Roadster the other day. Hugely clever car - very much a Lotus Elan for the new millennium. Tiny, very light, 3-cylinder 700cc-ish turbo engine at the back. Bags of fun, 55+ mpg, nicely low emissions. The local dealers have put me on the list for a test drive, but the right hand drive models don't appear until next month. Boo! There's also the minor issue of them costing a packet. Double Boo!
August 10, 2003
On the southside of Glasgow today, I drove past what appeared to be a motorcycle with a sidecar hearse. On closer inspection, it turned out to be exactly that.
There is, it turns out, precisely one of these things in the UK. Rock on.
Pirates of the Caribbean. Top nonsense.
Treasure? Arrr! Ghost ships? Arrr! Ancient curse? Arrr! Pirates bound by a loosely-applied Code? Arrr! Suspenseful will-he-won't-he honourable rogue plot device? Arrr! Prissy British naval officers? Arrr! Ravishing Governors' daughter? Arrr! Den of debauchery where everyone except our heroes appears to be brawling, drinking, carousing, or all three at once? Arrr! Classically-trained actors hamming it up something chronic, because it's funny, dammit? Arrr! Ravishing Governor's daughter turns out to be swashbucklingly resourceful? Arrr! Shadow of Richard E. Grant looming over every performance? (OK, so Depp claims it's Keith Richards - looks a lot like Withnail to me, mate) Arrr, anyway! Ship's monkey? Arrr! Romping Gladiator-pastiche soundtrack? Arrr! Incomprehensible ending leaving a big gaping hole open for a (probably rubbish) sequel? Arrr!
See, the thing is, by the time we got to the incomprehensible ending I just didn't care any more. I was away, I tell you. Gloriously silly film - I loved it.
August 9, 2003
August 8, 2003
By 'eck, something interesting at Kuro5hin: an excellently-written explanation of Cornershop's Brimful of Asha.
I've spent the whole week trying to complete task A: fretting about not having done it, making a start on it, being interrupted by tasks B and C, having task D take far longer than seemed reasonable, doing a bit more A, having to go back to B, then D, and so on.
By the end of the week, I was frantically trying to finish B (which was now quite urgent), and D had been and gone and was more-or-less OK but not, perhaps, entirely done with, while poor A hadn't gone anywhere at all. And it was driving me nuts. I have to do A! I have to do A! Arghhh!
Then, this afternoon, A fell apart completely. If I had done it this week, everything I'd done would have been a complete waste of time.
So all's well? Alas, no. For some reason, I find this turn of events even more irritating. Curious.
Mike and I are staging a flash anti-mob at 10:30am this morning, outside John Lewis' in Glasgow.
Feel free to join in by not attending. We won't see you there.
August 7, 2003
Just when you thought every Mac OS X applications was a thing of great beauty, PvT steps in and highlights the utter dreck that accessible development tools and the metal interface inspire. The awards will be presented in four categories:
- Best In Show
- Best Torture of Users
- Best Misuse of Technology
- Best Use of Real Ultimate Power
Submissions by September 15th. Perhaps I should finally make a start on CocoaPlant. [story c/o Brent. I do actually subscribe to the PvT feed in his software, but sometimes it's quicker just to read his blog...]
[Edit: comments on this entry are now closed. Since they're all bastard spam comments anyway. Apart from iMark's. I'd never describe his comments as 'bastard spam.']
August 5, 2003
Last night: pork loin roasted with peaches, garlic, thyme and white wine.
Tonight: beans on toast.
Mark Pilgrim has reinstalled Windows. I note this partly because it made me laugh, and partly because there are some terrifically useful links in the comments/trackbacks. I'm a supposedly cross-platform user myself (yes, I have a WinXP box), but in practice I'm utterly clueless about configuring the thing. While I have no real desire to spend time on the matter, I need to know more than I do currently.
August 3, 2003
Oh joy, oh bliss!
A couple of months ago I asked my hosting company, Dreamhost, if they had any plans to support WebDAV. They said 'no - sorry.' Fair enough - it's still niche technology. But late last week they enabled it anyway, for all of us.
Another small step to integrated electronic nirvana. Now to install php iCalendar...
Clearing out the back of the kitchen cupboard tonight, my flatmate/landlord Patt Markin (not his real name) said: 'This is like seeing my entire life in sachet form.'
Safari finally pissed me off enough to get around to bodging it. The trouble is, 'command+W' (close window) is too darned close to 'command+Q' (quit application), and of course there's no warning on the latter.
A minute's tinkering with Interface Builder later, and the 'quit' keyboard command is gone. Huzzah!
August 2, 2003
Hutton Inquiry Web Site. Transcripts presented in a truly terrible-to-read manner (in a small scrolling frame? Whu'?), but at least they're there.
Kim had a series of bizarre breakfast accidents yesterday. It all started when I ran to the local coffee shop for a dose of their particular brand of rocket fuel: Kim was up for a coffee too, and also a croissant.
Well, no croissants, so I bought him something else that was slightly curved and boasted only a tenuous connection with France. ie. a banana. Which is fine - he likes bananas - except that I handed it to him while he was cleaning his glasses.
Three minutes later, a yelp. He'd poked his eye with the thing while putting his specs back on.
Subsequently, in a meeting, his coffee cup started to leak all over our boss's conference table. He dashed out - burning his hand on the coffee - and dumped the leaky cup into an empty mug on a colleague's desk.
On leaving the meeting, we found the mug overflowing, coffee seeping across the colleague's desk and soaking its way through a pile of legal documents awaiting signing.